Private sector lender City Union Bank’s business transactions have reached 85% of the pre-COVID-19 levels. The use of non-banking channels like Internet banking and mobile banking by customers was one of the reasons, said managing director and chief executive officer N. Kamakodi. Edited excerpts:How did you tackle the challenges during the pandemic?As banks come under essential service, we had to work even during the lockdown. Most of our staff members faced challenges in attending work due to lack of road transport and public transport system. We had asked our customers to make transactions via Internet and mobile banking. By coming to the branches, they were putting themselves and staff members at risk. It was a challenging period and the team rose up to the occasion and managed the situation.Have you returned to pre-COVID-19 levels in transactions?The business transactions have reached 85% of last year’s level. It is improving month-on-month as our customers are doing transactions through non-banking channels too.How many of your clients availed the moratorium?We extended the option to all the borrowers. At the end of June, [customers] accounts covering about 70% of the loan book, paid amount in full or in four instalments. Only 12% of our exposure [customers] used the moratorium fully and did not pay even a single instalment during that period.How did you manage to keep staff in attendance while ensuring their safety?We followed all government norms. Wearing masks was compulsory. We disinfected all Automated Teller Machines and strictly followed social distancing. We strictly followed government norms of allowing 35% and 50% of staff to work on rotation and others worked from home.We encouraged customers to use non-banking channels like Internet banking and mobile banking. So, all these measures to a great extent protected our people. Out of the 700 branches, 110 staffers got affected by the virus. Unfortunately, we lost one person, while the rest of our staff recovered.What is the new normal like?Customer utilisation of Internet banking and mobile banking has increased. Regular meetings and staff meetings are happening through video-conferencing. Most of the customer meetings and investors’ meetings have also started to happen through video-conferencing. Physical travel has reduced to a great extent. Looks like the adoption of technology will be increasing as we pass the lockdown.CUB focuses mainly on retail sector lending. Is that why the NPA levels are low?It [retail lending] helped in a way by protecting us against increase in bad assets. As of June 30, 2020, our gross NPA stands at 3.90% and net NPA at 2.11%.What were the CSR activities done through this period?We donated to the PM Cares Fund and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Fund. More than that, we supported the Thanjavur administration by donating bedsheets and blankets to COVID-19 patients. We continued our usual services on a few of our water conservation projects like deepening of lakes in the Cauvery delta during the lockdown.What were the innovations during this period?Among private banks, CUB is known for introducing innovations.Earlier, people used to come to the bank to open accounts. Now, we have introduced Video Know Your Customer (V-KYC). It is picking up. Almost all transactions are happening via digital or non-banking channels and it stands at 90% today.What about network expansion?Last year, we opened 50 branches. For the current year, we have decided to put branch expansion on hold. We will evaluate it once the pandemic is over.